Elle Fanning


PARIS — L’Oréal Paris has an ethereal new ambassador: Elle Fanning, WWD has learned.

The 19-year-old star ­— whose breakout role was in “Super 8” — will walk the red carpet for the brand at the Cannes Film Festival, where L’Oréal Paris has been the official beauty partner for 20 years.

The actress stars in two movies being screened at the festival, which starts Wednesday. These are Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled,” which is in competition, and John Cameron Mitchell’s “How to Talk to Girls at Parties,” part of the event’s out-of-competition screenings.

Fanning grew up knowing all about L’Oréal Paris, since her grandmother uses its lipstick. “When I was little, it was always so comforting — I just remember that L’Oréal lipstick smell,” she said during an exclusive telephone interview with WWD from Los Angeles. The actress explained she admires how the brand celebrates “women as a whole.”

To Fanning, beauty is not only about taking care of one’s skin, hair and body, but also having freedom to express one’s self and be really creative.

She joins L’Oréal Paris’ star-studded lineup of spokespeople that also includes Julianne Moore, Susan Sarandon, Andie MacDowell, Naomi Watts, Eva Longoria and Blake Lively. As one of its youngest faces, Fanning hopes to chime particularly loudly with Millennials.

She has already discussed with L’Oréal Paris executives various ways to send positive messages out, especially via social media. “To have little beauty anecdotes or confidence-boosters, or something along those lines shared by L’Oréal, I think is a really crucial thing,” she said.

“Elle is a natural choice for the brand, as it highlights our love for beauty and cinema,” said Pierre Emmanuel Angeloglou, L’Oréal Paris global president, in a statement. “Indeed, she is the face for the new generation as an accomplished actress, but also an inspiring canvas for makeup artists.”

Fanning deems herself to be at a pivotal age, where she is “just discovering who you are. You’re still even discovering your style and what type of woman you want to be. It’s a crucial part of growing up. So to play into that area for [young girls] is what I am most looking forward to.”

She recently wrapped her first shoot for L’Oréal Paris, in a castle in France. “I got to say ‘Because you’re worth it.’ I was like, ‘That is so cool,’” she said with a laugh.

Her first advertisement for L’Oréal Paris will be for Paradise mascara.

Fanning also spoke about the experience of working with Coppola on “The Beguiled,” a Civil War-themed movie based on a novel by Thomas Cullinan told from a female perspective.

“The first thing I did with Sofia, I was 11. I just love her,” she said. “On ‘Somewhere,’ I felt like she was a big sister to me — or more motherly. But, then, for ‘The Beguiled,’ I was 18…so I got to go alone. I felt like my mom was comfortable because she was like — we know Sofia, and so it was a safe environment.”

It was on that set that their relationship bloomed into a close friendship, “which was that neat kind of transition,” said Fanning.

“Her sets are unlike anything else. Everyone just cares so much and is very inclusive, and everyone respects each other,” continued the actress. “She cares about each thing, and so you just feel like you’re completely working together.”

Fanning lauded the director’s attention to detail. “That’s what makes a Sofia Coppola film — the acting and the script and the story, of course, but it’s also like the costumes and the design and the lighting. It’s hair and makeup,” she said. “We had many hair and makeup tests. And she has such great taste. There is nobody more classy than Sofia.”

The powerful female cast of “The Beguiled,” which also stars Kirsten Dunst and Nicole Kidman, marked Fanning, too. Its filming took place in one house.

“It’s at this all-girls’ school, and it’s just all these ladies,” said the actress. “Nicole Kidman is the headmistress, and Kirsten is the teacher. Then there are students. It was all girl power on set, and Sofia [was] our leader — that was really fun.”

Colin Farrell plays the leading man.

“The roles were kind of reversed, in a way, because on other films normally you’re objectifying the woman or whatever, but our film – we were kind of objectifying him,” said Fanning. “It’s a great take and a very modern film, definitely, for the times that we’re living in now.”

A drawback was that the women all had to wear corsets. “I’m like, OK, I’m glad that I don’t live back then,” giggled Fanning.

She got serious, though, when talking about the need for more gender equality in Hollywood and beyond. “I think it’s the most important to break down all those barriers in the world we’re living in, in real life, for everybody,” said Fanning. “One step at a time.”

On “How to Talk to Girls at Parties,” which also stars Kidman, Fanning, who “had looked up to her for a long time,” joked: “I was like oh, she’s also kind of tall like me. But meeting her was really special. I remember she gave me a piece of advice. She was like: ‘Find your tribe.’”

Fanning experienced the festival for the first time last year, representing the film “The Neon Demon.”

“It was so glamorous,” she said. “I love picking out dresses for the red carpet and figuring out the whole look for that. It was the craziest red carpet I’d ever seen — with those stairs. There’s really nothing like it.”

Since Fanning had to miss her senior prom for the event her date (and best friend) flew to Cannes to hold it, in their own way, there. “It was just the best; he brought his tux that he was going to wear and then I had this beautiful dress,” she said, adding her mother took prom photos and supplied the roses and corsages. “We did the whole thing before going on the red carpet.

“But this year, I’m excited for the movies I’m getting to go with, and for L’Oréal,” she continued. “I’ll be there for a lot longer period this time, so I’ll really get to make more memories.”

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